Studies in Medieval Astronomy and Optics: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Studies in Medieval Astronomy and Optics

1st Edition

By J.L. Mancha


352 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789963
pub: 2006-10-28
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In this selection of studies, J.L. Mancha explores aspects of the development of medieval optics and astronomy, including some medieval antecedents of the work of early modern astronomers. The articles deal with Latin, Hebrew and Arabic texts, and the process of translation and transmission of knowledge, and focus on three main themes. First, the theory and astronomical use of the pinhole camera in the 12th and 13th centuries; the texts edited here contain a solution to the problem of the formation of images cast by light through triangular apertures, equivalent to Kepler's, a description of the correct procedure for measuring solar apparent diameters using finite apertures, and a derivation of the Sun's eccentricity from its apparent diameters at apogee and perigee. Second, the characteristics of the Latin and Provençal versions of Levi ben Gerson's astronomical work, composed in collaboration with the author, as well as his tables and canons for finding syzygies and the mathematical methods used in the derivation of parameters. Third, different aspects of the survival of homocentric astronomy in the Middle Ages, especially al-Bitruji's model for trepidation and the technique for calculating the hippopede resulting from Eudoxan couples.


’… a welcome addition to the Variorum series and a most useful work for historians of medieval science.’ Aestimatio ’This book offers a splendid collection of articles on the transmission of Mediaeval science. It explores in depth the interesting subject of the exchange of knowledge between the Arab culture and Mediaeval Europe via Jewish intermediaries.’ Metascience ’Les services que rendent les éditions Ashgate à travers leur collection Variorum n'ont plus besoin d'être soulignés, et le volume qui réunit les articles de J.L. Mancha en fournit une nouvelle preuve: trouver regroupés sous un format commode et maniable les articles qu'un même auteur a consacrés à des questions voisines représente pour les amateurs une merveilleuse opportunité, d'autant que cet auteur a été prié de conforter l'unité thématique de son volume en le dotant d'un bref avant-propos de présentation et d'un index collectif.’ Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Astronomy and Optics: Egidius of Baisiu's theory of pinhole images; Astronomical use of pinhole images in William of Saint-Cloud's Almanach planetarum (1292). The astronomy of Levi Ben Gerson: The Latin translation of Levi ben Gerson's astronomy; Levi ben Gerson's astronomical work: chronology and Christian context; Heuristic reasoning: approximation procedures in Levi ben Gerson's astronomy; The Provençal version of Levi ben Gerson's table for eclipses; Right ascensions and hippopedes: homocentric models in Levi ben Gerson's astronomy, I: first anomaly. Arabic Astronomy in Western Texts: Ibn al-Haytham's homocentric epicycles in Latin astronomical texts of the 14th and 15th centuries; On Ibn al-Kammad's table for trepidation; A note on Copernicus' 'correction' of Ptolemy's mean synodic month; Al-Bitruji's theory of the motions of the fixed stars. Addenda et corrigenda; Index.

About the Author

Professor J.L. Mancha directs a research unit in the History and Philosophy of the Physical and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Seville, Spain.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General